Archive for February 18th, 2008

How to Stop Cars and Win Enemies

By Farish A. Noor

When it comes to dealing with the grouses of the Malaysian public – many of which happen to be legitimate, mind you – it would seem that the benighted leaders of our blessed country have read every single page of the stupid book.

We recall the period when we, the Malaysian public were told by our – Malaysian – government that we had the right to speak up and that our voices would be heard. We were assured that we had the right to speak, to raise our concerns, to voice our opinions and to even state our differences and disagreements in this new Utopian, idyllic public space that had appeared out of nowhere. But no sooner than had we opened our mouths to utter the first sentence beginning with “But…”, the tear gas canisters were shot in our faces, the batons were raised, the water cannons were put to work. It is hard, as I wrote not too long ago, ‘to listen to the people while you gas them in the face’.

The latest (of many) instances of back-tracking came with the defensive posture taken by the senior leadership of this country in the face of the demands voiced by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) of Malaysia. I write this as someone who is concerned about the poverty and growing income gap among all Malaysians, and not Hindus solely. And while I cannot lend my support to any grouping that is sectarian and exclusive by nature, neither can I deny the fact that many of the complaints raised by Hindraf happen to be real – or at least really felt – by the members and supporters of the movement itself. Read the rest of this entry »


Financial Autonomy To Universities A Good Start

by M. Bakri Musa

The decision by Minister of Higher Education Datuk Mustapa to grant financial autonomy to public universities is a good start. He should not stop there however; he should also push to extend academic, management, and other freedoms. Our universities will forever remain trapped in mediocrity as long as they remain within the clutches of the civil service.

University of Malaya Law Professor Azmi Sharom says it best, “If we love our universities, we must set them free!”

It shows how cumbersome the administrative machinery of the government is that such a simple decision would take months if not years to implement. It would involve among others changing the various laws and regulations, right down to employment and procurement practices.

Further, with the coming elections, there is no assurance that Mustapa will remain in his present post. His successor may make yet another policy U-turn that regularly afflicts our education system. Even if Mustapa were to keep his present position, there is no guarantee that he could overcome powerful forces that would resist ceding control of our universities. Read the rest of this entry »


Po Kuan – Malaysia needs you to create history to deny BN 2/3 parliamentary majority

It’s 2.45 am. Endless series of meetings, internal and external, in the past 72 hours, putting me on the road from Petaling Jaya to Perak, Penang and down to Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, including two ceramahs with Po Kuan in Batu Gajah parliamentary constituency on Friday night and the launching of two election operation centres (Tebing Tinggi and Menglembu in Perak) as well as visit to traditional DAP stronghold in Kuala Lumpur, the Bukit Bintang parliamentary constituency, but which has now become a “danger” seat because of electoral manipulation in the influx of over 6,000 postal voters.

Have been up for 22 hours – including a five-hour marathon meeting of DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat leaders which ended with primary agreement for one-to-one contest between DAP or PKR with the Barisan Nasional in Peninsular Malaysia states – with the last meeting just ended an hour ago.

Very tired but no thought of sleep until I blog about Fong Po Kuan. Not just because I have been made the villain causing Po Kuan’s announcement that she would not contest in the 12th general election but also because of her qualities.

At about 2.30 p.m., I received calls asking why I had forced Po Kuan to retire from politics, as AIFM (Chinese) received by motorists had carried news flash that Po Kuan had announced her resignation from the DAP because of her unhappiness with me in forcing her to contest in another constituency.

I never did such a thing and Po Kuan never resigned from the party – but the damage was done, as first impressions (however false) are most lasting, that I had forced Po Kuan to resign from the DAP because I was forcing her to contest in another constituency apart from Batu Gajah. Talking about “eating dead cat”!

The party never asked Po Kuan to change constituencies, as all party leaders had expected and fully supported her to contest for the third time in the Batu Gajah parliamentary seat. Read the rest of this entry »